Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Faking Grace

Multnomah Books (August 19, 2008)


Tamara Leigh is the best-selling author of eleven novels, including Perfecting Kate, Splitting Harriet, and Stealing Adda. She began writing romance novels to “get the stories out her head.” Over the course of one providential year, she gave birth to her first child, committed her life to Christ, gave up a career in speech pathology, and released her first novel. Tamara and her husband, David, live with their two sons in Tennessee.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 12.99

Paperback: 400 pages

Publisher: Multnomah Books (August 19, 2008)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1590529294

ISBN-13: 978-1590529294




Grace [√]

Nice, upstanding Christian name—lucked out on that one. Must remember to answer to it.


Monochrome hair [√]

I flip down the visor mirror and peer at the “Marilyn Monroe” blond hair that waves off of my oval face. I so miss my stripes. But under my present circumstances, it’s not as if I can afford to keep up the multiple-shade “do.” Back to the list.

Minimal make-up [√]

Do I feel naked! Another peek in the mirror confirms the feeling. As I passed on foundation and blush, applying only a light powder to even out my tone, I look pale. The overall effect is that my hazel eyes practically jump off my face from beneath perfectly plucked eyebrows (the stragglers made me do it).

Below-knee skirt [√]

Button-up collar [√]

One-inch heels [√]

Almost wish I were naked.

Cross necklace and earrings [√]

WWJD bracelet [√]

I scrunch up my nose. “WWJD? Where would Jesus...? Why would Jesus...?” I tap the bracelet. “Ah! What would Jesus do?”

“Love Waits” ring [√]

Oh no, it doesn’t. Still, it’s a nice thought, especially considering the guy I left behind. But best not to go there.


Bible [√]

Bible Cover [√]

And, I must say, it’s a nice cover. I look to where it sits on the passenger seat with the “KJV” (whatever that means) Bible tucked inside—intensely spiritual with a tapestry print of a country church. And the faux tortoiseshell handles! Nice touch.

Twist pen with 7 different scriptures [√]

One for every day of the week.

“Footprints in the Sand” bookmark [√]

Touching poem. And a surprise ending too!

Fish emblem [√]

“Oops!” I open the ashtray, dig out the emblem, and drop it in my lap. “Check!”

“Jesus is my pilot” bumper sticker [√]

Crown of thorns air freshener [√]

I glance at the scented disk that hangs from my rearview mirror. Stinks, but nicely visible—practically screams “This is one serious Christian.”


“Jesus is my savior.” [√]

“Jesus died for my sins.” [√]

I close my eyes and run the lingo through my mind. “Got it!”

“I’m praying for you.” [√]

I wonder how many Christians really do.

“I need to pray about that.” [√]

Otherwise known as “No way, Jose'!” Or, in these parts, the “Nashville no.”

“Bless his/her heart.” [√]

Sympathetic aside tacked to a derogatory remark about someone to make it acceptable (possibly exclusive to the South, as I’d never heard it before moving to Nashville four months ago).

“My brother/sister in Christ.” [√]

“God’s timing.” [√]

“Have a blessed day.” [√]

“Yours in Christ.” [√]

Must remember to use that last one for note cards and such.


Church [√]

That one on West End should do—respectable-looking and big enough to allow me to slip in and out undetected should I need to place myself in that setting. Of course, I hope the need does not arise. Not that I’m not a believer. I am. Sort of. I mean, I was “saved” years ago. Even went through the dunking process—the whole water up the nose thing (should not have panicked). But the truth is that, other than occasionally attending church with my grandmother before and after I was saved, my faith is relatively green. Hence, the need for a checklist.

Testimony [ ]

“Uh! Just had to leave that one for last, Maizy. Yes, “Maizy,” as in “Maizy Grace.” Courtesy of one Grandma Maizy, one Grandma Grace, and one mother with a penchant for wordplay. Amazing grace! And Mom is not even a Christian. But Dad’s mom is. According to Grace Stewart, the only thing my parents did right was to name me after her. I beg to differ. I mean…Maizy Grace? Though growing up I did my best to keep it under wraps, my mom blew it during a three-girl sleepover when she trilled upstairs, “Oh, Maizy Grace! How sweet the sound. Won’t you girls come on down?” Fodder for girlhood enemies like Cynthia Sircy who beat me out for student council representative by making an issue of my “goody two shoes” name. And that’s why I never use “Grace.” Of course, it could prove useful today.

I return to my checklist. “Testimony…” I glance at the dashboard clock that reveals I’ve blown ten of my twenty minutes leeway. Guess I’ll have to think up a testimony on my way in to the interview. Not that I don’t have a story of how I came to know Jesus. It’s just boring. Hmm. Maybe I could expand on my Christian summer camp experience—throw in an encounter with a bear or some other woodland creature with big teeth. Speaking of which…

I check my teeth in the mirror. Pale pink lipstick is so boring. Glaringly chaste. Borderline anti-sexual. Of course, that is the effect I’m after. All good.

“All right, Maizy—er, Grr-ace—get in there and get that job.” A job I badly need if I’m to survive starting over in Nashville, as my part-time position as a lifestyle reporter at the paper has yet to translate into the full-time position I was led to believe it would after three months. Funds are getting low.

I fold my checklist and stick it in the book I picked up at Borders the day I surfed the classified ads and hit on “Seeking editorial assistant for Christian company.” Editorial assistant—a far cry from reporter. In fact, beneath me, but what’s a girl to do?

Closing the book, I smile at the title: The Dumb Blonde’s Guide to Christianity. Not that I’m blond—leastwise, not naturally. Another glance in the mirror confirms that although the $7.99 over-the-counter bottle of blond is no $75 salon experience, it lives up to its claim. Not brassy at all. Still, maybe I should have gone back to basic brown so I wouldn’t have to worry about roots. But talk about boring.

I toss the book on the passenger seat, retrieve the fish emblem and my purse, and swing my legs out the car door. After “hipping” the door closed, I hurry to the back. Unfortunately, unlike the bumper sticker, there seems no non-permanent way to apply the emblem. Thus, I have no choice but to pull off the backing and slap the fish on the trunk lid. Not sure what it symbolizes, but I can figure that out later—if I get the job.

I lower my gaze to the “Jesus is my pilot” bumper sticker. Nice statement, especially with the addition of the fish. Honestly, who wouldn’t believe I’m a deeply committed Christian? And if someone should call me on it, I could be forgiven—it is April 1st—as in April Fools’ Day.

As I start to look away, the peeling lower edge of the bumper sticker catches my eye. Should have used more Scotch tape. I reach down.

“It’s crooked.”

The accented matter-of-fact voice makes me freeze. I’m certain it was directed at me, but did he say “It’s crooked” or “She’s crooked”? Surely the latter is merely a Freudian slip of my mind. And even if it isn’t, I’m not crooked. Just desperate.

As the man behind me could be an employee of Steeple Side Christian Resources, I muster a smile and turn. The first thing I notice where he stands six feet back is his fashionably distressed jeans. Meaning he can’t be an employee. And certainly isn’t looking for a hand out—even better (though I sympathize with the plight of the homeless, they make me very uncomfortable). So he’s probably just passing through the parking lot. Perhaps heading for Steeple Side’s retail store that occupies a portion of the lower floor of their corporate offices.

The next item of note is his shirt—a nice cream linen button up that allows a glimpse of tanned collarbone. I like it. What I don’t like is his face—rather, expression. If not for his narrowed eyes and flat-lined mouth, he’d be halfway attractive with that sweep of dark blond hair, matching eyebrows, and decent cheekbones. Maybe even three-quarters, but that would be pushing it, as his two-day shadow can’t hide a lightly scarred jaw. Teenage acne?

I gesture behind. “My bumper sticker seems to be coming off.”

He lowers his green eyes over me, and though I may simply be paranoid, I’m certain he gives my cross earrings and necklace, button-up collar, and below-knee skirt more attention than is warranted. He glances at the bumper sticker before returning his regard to me. “Yes, it is coming off.”

British. I’m certain of it. Nowhere near the Southern drawl one more often encounters in Nashville.

“Of course...” He crosses his arms over his chest. “…that’s because you’re using tape.”

That obvious? “Well, doesn’t everyone?” Ugh! Can’t believe I said that. Maybe there is something to the warning that you are what you read, as I could not have sounded more like the stereotypical dumb blonde if I had tried.

He raises an eyebrow. “Everyone? Not if they want it to adhere permanently. You do, don’t you?”

Guilt flushes me, and is followed by panic even though I have no reason to fear that this stranger with the gorgeously clipped accent might expose me as a fake. “Of course I do!”

Is that a smile? “Splendid, then I’ll let you in on a little secret.”

Delicious accent or not, that doesn’t sound good. It isn’t, as evidenced by his advance. I step aside, and he drops to his haunches and begins peeling away the tape. “You see…” Holding up the sticker, he looks over his shoulder and squints against the sunlight at my back. “…self adhesive.” He peels off the backing, positions the sticker, and presses it onto my bumper—my previously adhesive-free bumper.

He straightens. That is a smile—one that makes him look a bit like that new James Bond actor. What’s his name?

“You’d be surprised at how much technology has advanced over the last few years,” he says.

I nearly miss his sarcasm, genteelly embedded as it is in that accent. “Well, who would have thought?” Be nice, Maizy—er, Grace. My smile feels tight. In fact, my whole face feels as if lathered by Lava soap. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you taking the time to affix my bumper sticker properly.”

He inclines his head. “If you’d like, I’ll try to straighten your fish.”

My…? It’s crooked, he said. Not the bumper sticker—my fish. Meaning he probably saw me stick it on. Were he more than a passerby, I’d be deeply embarrassed. “No, thank you. I like my fish slightly crooked.” I glance at the emblem that appears to have its nose stuck in the air. “It makes him look as if he’s fighting the current. You know, like a good Christian.”

Very good, Ma—Grr-ace! Were he a Steeple Side employee, you would have won him over.

“So you’re a Christian?”

So much for my self-congratulatory pat on the back. Of course, maybe his question is academic. I mean, it’s obvious I’m a Christian. “Of course! A Christian. And proud of it.” Good practice. Unfortunately, if his frown is anything to go by, I’m in need of more. “Er, Jesus is my savior.” Knew Christian speak would come in handy.

His frown deepens.

Or maybe not. Making a show of checking my watch, I gasp. Nothing at all fake about that, as most of my leeway has been gobbled up. Thankfully, I was lucky to—

No, blessed. Must think as well as speak “Christian.” Thankfully, I was blessed to snag a parking space at the front of the building—the only one, as the dozen marked VISITOR spaces were taken, and the remaining spaces on either side of mine are reserved for upper management, as evidenced by personalized signs.

I fix a smile. “Thank you again for your help. If you’ll excuse me, I have an appointment.”


I step forward and, as I pass within two feet of him, take a whiff. Some type of citrus-y cologne. Nice. Not sharp or cloying. Unlike Ben whose cologne of choice made my nasal passages burn. And the Brit is nearly six feet tall to my five foot six. Not so tall I couldn’t wear three-inch heels for fear of shooting up past him. Unlike Ben who’d limited me to one-inch heels—

Go away! Another reason to leave Seattle. With his liberal application of cologne and compact height and build, Ben was nowhere near the man for me. Not that his scent and size was the worst of him. Far from it. And am I glad to be far from him.

As I step to the sidewalk, I’m tempted to glance behind at the nicely-proportioned, bumper-sticker happy Brit. Temptation wins out.

Thumbs hooked in his pockets, he stands alongside my passenger door. Watching me.

Feeling as if caught doing something wrong, I jerk a hand up and scroll through my “Christian speak” for something to reinforce my claim of being a Christian. “Yours in Christ!” I flash a smile that instantly falters.

At the rumpling of his brow, I jerk around and head for the smoked glass doors of Steeple Side Christian Resources. Cannot believe I used a written salutation! Dumb blonde alert! Speaking of which….

The Dumb Blonde’s Guide to Christianity is on the passenger seat. Fortunately, if the man is nosey enough to scope out the interior of my car, it’s not as if I’ll see him again. That scrumptious accent and citrus cologne was a one-time thing. Unless he does work at Steeple Side and I do get the job. Fat chance.

As I pull open one of several sets of glass doors, I glance behind. He’s on the sidewalk now, head back as he peers up the twenty-some floors of the building. Definitely not an employee.

The lobby is bright and sparsely furnished, but what stops me is the backlit thirty-foot cross on the far wall. Fashioned out of what appears to be brushed aluminum, it’s glaringly simple. And yet I can’t imagine it having more presence.

Crossing to the information desk at the center of the lobby, I scope out the men and women who are entering and exiting the elevators. All nicely dressed. All conservative. I’ll fit right in—

I zoom in on a woman who’s stepping into the nearest elevator. Her skirt is above the knee by a couple inches. And that guy who just stepped out of another elevator? His hair brushes his shoulders.

I shift my gaze back to the towering cross. I’m at the right place, meaning those two are probably visitors. Same goes for the young woman who sweeps past and reaches the information desk ahead of me. Not only is she wearing ruched capris, but she has my hair. Rather, the hair I had. Ha! If she’s after my job, I’ve got her beat.

She drops a jingly purse on the desk and points past me where I’ve halted behind. “Jack is so hot!”

“Really?” The chubby-faced receptionist bounds out of her chair, only to falter at the sight of me.

“Yes, hot!” The “ruched” young woman jabs the air again, looks around, and startles. “Er, not ‘hot hot.’ ‘Hot,’ as in under the collar…ticked off.”

That’s my cue to appear relieved that she didn’t mean “hot,” as in “carnal,” as she’s obviously connected to this company—at least, the receptionist. I nod. “That’s a relief.”

She smiles, then puts her forearms on the desk and leans in to whisper in a not too whisper-y voice, “This time they stole his assigned parking sign.”

It would make me “hot” too if someone stole mine. Doubtless, some visitor would snap up my space and I’d have to park—

Oh no. The front parking space I snagged… The only unmarked space in the middle of dozens of marked spaces…

I look around and peer out the bank of glass windows. The Brit whose parking space I took, and who does work here, is striding toward the doors. And he does look hot, though I can’t be sure whether it’s more in the carnal way or the angry way. Regardless, I am not getting this job.

Monday, October 27, 2008

New Fiction Feature

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Diamond Duo

Barbour Publishing, Inc (October 1, 2008)


Marcia Gruver is a full time writer who hails from Southeast Texas. Inordinately enamored by the past, Marcia delights in writing historical fiction. Her deep south-central roots lend a Southern-comfortable style and a touch of humor to her writing.

Awarded a three book contract by Barbour Publishing for full-length historical fiction, Marcia is busy these days pounding on the keyboard and watching the deadline clock. Diamond Duo, the first installment in the trilogy entitled Texas Fortunes, is scheduled for release in October 2008.

Marcia won third place in the 2007 ACFW Genesis contest and third in the 2004 ACFW Noble Theme contest. Another entry in 2004 finished in the top ten. She placed second in the 2002 Colorado Christian Writer’s contest for new authors, securing a spot in an upcoming compilation book. “I Will Never Leave Thee,” in For Better, For Worse—Devotional Thoughts for Married Couples, was released by Christian Publications in January 2004.

She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Fellowship of Christian Writers, and The Writers View—and a longstanding member of ACFW Crit3 and Seared Hearts, her brilliant and insightful critique groups.

Lifelong Texans, Marcia and her husband, Lee, have one daughter and four sons. Collectively, this motley crew has graced them with ten grandchildren and one great-granddaughter—so far.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 10.97

Paperback: 288 pages

Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc (October 1, 2008)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1602602050

ISBN-13: 978-1602602052


Diamond Duo by Marcia Gruver, Chapter One

Jefferson, Texas, Friday, January 19, 1877

With the tip of a satin shoe, the graceful turn of an ankle, the woman poured herself like cream from the northbound train out of Marshall and let the tomcats lap her up. In the beginning, an upraised parasol blocked her visage, but no lingering look at her features could erase the impression already established by pleasing carriage, a lavish blue gown, and slender fingers covered in diamonds.

Bertha Biddie waited with stilted breath for the moment when the umbrella might tip and give up its secret. All about her most of Jefferson had come to a halt, as if the whole town waited with her. Without warning, the woman lowered and closed the sunshade.

Enchanted, Bertha followed the graceful lines of her form to her striking and memorable face. At first sight of her, Bertha thought she was the devil’s daughter. She bore no obvious mark of evil. Just smoldering eyes and a knowing glance that said life held mysteries young Bertha had yet to glimpse.

Her hair sparkled like sunrays dancing on Big Cypress Creek. Her lashes were as black as the bottom of a hole, and her lids seemed smudged with coal. Delicate features perched below a dark halo of hair, and a pink flush lit her fair cheeks. Her expression teemed with mischief, and her full ruby lips curled up at the corners as if recalling a bawdy yarn. She turned slightly, evidently aware of the gathering horde for the first time. With a tilt of her chin and barely perceptible sway, she cast a wide net over the men in the crowd and dragged them to shore.

Bertha watched them respond to her and realized Mama had been less than forthcoming about the real and true nature of things. Forgetting themselves and the women at their sides, they stared open-mouthed, some in spite of jealous claws that gripped their arms. Even the ladies stared, the looks on their faces ranging from admiration to envy.

The reaction of the men only slightly altered when the lady’s escort stepped out of the Texas & Pacific passenger car behind her. Though his clothes were just as spiffy and he carried himself well, the man who accompanied that gilded bird lacked her allure, bore none of her charm. Yet despite her confident display of tail feathers, the bluebird at his side clearly deferred to him as though he’d found a way to clip her wings.

With great care, the porter handed down the couple’s baggage, the matched set a rare sight in those parts, then held out his hand. Her companion tipped the man, gathered the bags, and walked away from the platform without offering a single word in the bluebird’s direction. She cast a quick glance after him but stood her ground, her demeanor unruffled in the face of his rebuke.

As was the custom, The Commercial Hotel, Haywood House, and Brooks House, three reputable hotels in town, each had transport standing by to haul incoming passengers from the station. Dr. J. H. Turner, landlord of Brooks House, waited on hand in the conveyance he called an omnibus.

The woman’s friend secured passage with Dr. Turner and helped him load their belongings then turned and crooked a finger in her direction. She pretended not to notice.

“Bessie!” he barked. “For pity’s sake.”

She lifted her head, reopened the parasol, and strolled his way without saying a word—giving in but taking all the time she pleased to do so. He handed her up onto the carriage, climbed in beside her, and settled back to rest a possessive arm around her shoulders.

Dr. Turner eased onto Alley Street and trundled away from the station, breaking the spell cast over the denizens of Jefferson. In slow motion they awoke from their stupor and returned to their lives.

Bertha released the breath she’d held and gripped her best friend’s arm. “What was she, Magda? I’ve never seen anything like her.”

When Magda shook her head, her curls danced the fandango. “Me neither. And we never will again. Not around here, anyway.”

She leaned past Magda trying to catch another glimpse. “She’s no earthbound creature, that’s for sure. But devil or angel? I couldn’t tell.”

Magda laughed. “She’s human all right, just not ordinary folk.” She pressed her finger to her lips. “Could be one of those actresses from a New York burletta.”

Bertha gasped. “From the Broadway stage? You really think so?”

“She’s certainly stylish enough.”

Bertha squinted down Alley Street at the back of the tall carriage. “That man called her Bessie. She doesn’t look like a Bessie to me.”

“Further proof that beneath all her fluff, she’s a vessel of clay like the rest of us.”

“How so?”

“Who ever heard of an angel named Bessie?”

Grinning, Bertha leaned and tweaked Magda’s nose. “Oh, go on with you.”

Of all the souls wandering the earth—in Jefferson, Texas, at least—Bertha Maye Biddie’s heart had knit with Magdalena Hayes’ from the start. They were a year apart, Magda being the oldest, but age wasn’t the only difference between them. Magda easily reached the top shelves in the kitchen, where Bertha required a stool. And while big-boned Magda took up one and a half spaces on a church pew, Bertha barely filled the remaining half. Magda’s russet mop coiled as tight as tumbleweed. Bertha’s black hair fell to her waist in silken waves and gave her fits trying to keep it pinned up. Nothing fazed self-possessed Magda. Bertha greeted life with her heart.

Magda nudged Bertha with her elbow. “Earthbound or not, I can tell you one thing about her. . .”

“What’s that?”

The look in Magda’s big brown eyes said whatever the one thing was it was bound to be naughty. She leaned in to whisper. “She knows a thing or two about the fellas.”

Bertha raised her brows. “You can tell that just by looking at her, can you?”

“Not looking at her, smart britches. I can tell by the way she looks at them.” She fussed with her curls, her eyes pious slants. “No decent woman goes eye to eye with strange men in the street, and you know it.”

“I guess some decent woman told you that?”

“Bertha Maye Biddie! Don’t get fresh with me.”

Bertha tucked in her chin and busied herself straightening her gloves. “Maybe she’s fed up with their scandalous fawning. Ever think of that?”

“Any hound will track his supper.”

The words made Bertha mad enough to spit, but she didn’t know why. “A pie set out on a windowsill may be a fine display of good cooking, but not necessarily an invitation.”

Magda narrowed her eyes. “What on earth are you talking about?” Before Bertha could answer, she stiffened and settled back for a pout. “Why are you siding up with that woman anyway? You don’t even know her.”

The truth was, Bertha’s head still reeled from the first sight of Bessie. And the way men reacted to her flooded Bertha’s young heart with hope and provided an opportunity, if she played her cards right, to fix a private matter that sorely needed fixing.

She knew a few things by instinct, like how to toss her long hair or tilt her chin just so. Enough to mop the grin off Thaddeus Bloom’s handsome face and light a fire in those dark eyes. But she was done with turning to mush in his presence and watching him revel in it. If Bertha could learn a few of the bluebird’s tricks, she’d have that rascal wagging his tail. Then the shoe would be laced to the proper foot, and Thad could wear it up her front stoop when he came to ask for her hand.

One thing was certain. Whatever Bessie knew, Bertha needed to know it.

She tugged on Magda’s arm. “Come on.”

“Come on where?”

Already a wagon-length ahead, Bertha called back over her shoulder. “To the hotel. We’re going to find her.”

“What? Why?”

“Save your questions for later. Now hurry!”

Bertha dashed to the steps at the end of the boardwalk and scurried into the street.

“You planning to run clear to Vale Street?” Magda huffed, rushing to catch up. “Slow down. It ain’t ladylike.”

“Oh, pooh. Neither am I. Look, there’s Mose. He’ll take us.”

Just ahead, Moses Pharr’s rig, piled high with knobby cypress, turned onto Alley Street headed the opposite way. The rickety wagon, pulled by one broken-down horse, bore such a burden of wood it looked set to pop like a bloated tick. When Bertha whistled, the boy’s drowsy head jerked up. He turned around and saw her, and a grin lit his freckled face.

“Bertha!” Magda hustled up beside her. “If your pa gets word of you whistling in town, he’ll take a strap to your legs.”

“Papa doesn’t own a strap. Come on, Mose is waiting.”

She ran up even with the wagon and saw that the mountain of wood had blocked her view of Mose’s sister sitting beside him on the seat. They both grinned down at her, Rhodie’s long red hair the only visible difference between the two.

“Hey, Rhodie.”

“Hey, Bert. Where you going?”

“To Brooks House. I was hoping to hitch a ride.”

Mose leaned over, still grinning. “We always got room for you, Bertha. Hop on.”

Magda closed the distance between them and came to stand beside Bertha, breathing hard. When Bertha pulled herself onto the seat beside Rhodie, Magda started to follow. Mose raised his hand to stop her.

“Hold up there.” He looked over at Bertha. “Her, too?”

Bertha nodded.

Mose cut his eyes back at the wood and then shrugged. “Guess one more can’t hurt. But she’ll have to sit atop that stump. Ain’t no more room on the seat.”

Magda adjusted her shawl around her shoulders and sniffed. “I refuse to straddle a cypress stump all the way to Vale Street.”

“Suit yourself,” Bertha said. “But it’s a long walk. Let’s go, Mose.”

Mose lifted the reins and clucked at the horse. Magda grabbed the wooden handgrip and pulled herself onto the wagon just as it started to move. Arranging her skirts about her, she perched on the tall stump like Miss Muffet. “Well, what are you waiting for?” she asked. “Let’s go.”

Laughing, they rolled through Jefferson listing and creaking, ignoring the stares and whispers. When the rig pulled up across from Brooks House, even the spectacle they made couldn’t compete with Bessie and her traveling companion.

The couple stood on the street beside their luggage, the carriage nowhere in sight. They seemed at the end of a heated discussion, given his mottled face and her missing smile.

When Bertha noticed the same sick-cow expression on the faces of the gathered men and the same threatened look on the women’s, she became more determined than ever to learn Bessie’s secret.

The man with Bessie growled one more angry word then hefted their bags and set off up the path. Not until Bessie followed him and disappeared through the shadowy door did the town resume its pace.

Mose gulped and found his voice. “She looked as soft as a goose-hair pillow. Who is she?”

Bertha scooted to the edge of her seat and climbed down. She dusted her hands and smoothed her skirt before she answered. “I don’t know, but I intend to find out.”

“Roll up your tongue, Moses Pharr,” Magda said from the back, “and get me off this stump.”

Mose hopped to the ground and hurried around to help Magda.

Rhodie, twirling her copper braid, grinned down at Bertha. “What are you going to do, Bert?”

Magda answered for her. “She’s going to get us into trouble, that’s what.”

Bertha took her by the hand. “Stop flapping your jaws and come on.”

They waved goodbye to Mose and Rhodie then hurried across the street, dodging horses, wagons, and men—though their town wasn’t nearly as crowded as it had once been.

Jefferson, Queen City of the Cypress, lost its former glory in 1873, when the United States Corps of Engineers blew the natural dam to kingdom come, rerouting the water from Big Cypress Bayou down the Red River to Shreveport. Once a thriving port alive with steamboat traffic, when the water level fell, activity in Jefferson, the river port town that had earned the title “Gateway to Texas” dwindled. To that very day, in fits of Irish temper, Bertha’s papa cursed the responsible politicians.

But through it all, Jefferson had lost none of its charm. Brooks House was a prime example of the best the town had to offer, so it seemed only right that someone like Bessie might wind up staying there.

Bertha and Magda positioned themselves outside the hotel and hunkered down to wait—the former on a mission, the latter under duress. It didn’t take long for the girls to learn a good bit about the captivating woman and her cohort. Talk swirled out the door of the hotel soon after the couple sashayed to the front desk to register under the name of A. Monroe and wife, out of Cincinnati, Ohio.

The gentleman, if he could be counted as such, addressed the woman as Annie or Bessie, when he didn’t call her something worse. The two quarreled openly, scratching and spitting like cats, and didn’t care who might be listening. By the time the story drifted outside, the locals had dubbed her Diamond Bessie due to her jewel-encrusted hands, and it seemed the name would stick.

Bertha shaded her eyes with her hands and pressed her face close to the window. “I don’t see her anymore, Magda. I guess they took a room.”

“Of course they took a room. Why else would they come to a hotel?”

Bertha ignored her sarcasm and continued to search the lobby for Bessie. Still catching no sight of her, she turned around. “Isn’t she the most glorious thing? And even prettier close up.”

“That she is.”

“Did you see the way men look at her? I never saw that many roosters on the prowl at one time.”

“And all for squat,” Magda said. “That chicken’s been plucked. The little banty she strutted into town with has already staked a claim.” She grinned. “He wasn’t all that hard on the eyes himself.”

Bertha frowned. “That strutting peacock? Besides his flashy clothes, she was the only thing special about him. Don’t see how he managed to snare a woman like that. He must be rich.”

Magda arched one tapered brow. “Did you see the rings on her fingers?”

“I reckon so. I’m not blind.”

Magda stretched her back and heaved a sigh. “I guess that’s it then. Let’s go.”

Bertha grabbed her arm. “Wait. Where are you going?”

“Home. This show’s over. They’ve settled upstairs by now.”

Lacing her fingers under her chin, Bertha planted herself in Magda’s path. “Won’t you wait with me just a mite longer?”

“She’s not coming out here, Bertha. Besides, you’ve seen enough for today.”

“I don’t want to see her. I need to talk to her.”

Magda drew herself back and stared. “Are you tetched? We can’t just walk up and talk to someone like her. Why would she fool with the likes of us?”

“I don’t know. I’ll think of a way. I’ve got to.” She bit her bottom lip—three words too late.

Looking wary now, Magda crossed her arms. “Got to? Why?”

“Just do.” Bertha met her look head-on. She wouldn’t be bullied out of it. Not even by Magda.

Resting chubby fists on rounded hips, Magda sized her up. “All right, what does this have to do with Thad?”

No one knew her like Magda. Still, the chance she might stumble onto Bertha’s motives were as likely as hatching a three-headed guinea hen. Struggling to hold her jaw off the ground, she lifted one shoulder. “Who said it did?”

Magda had the gall to laugh. “Because, dearie,” she leaned to tap Bertha’s forehead, “everything inside there lately has something to do with Thad.”

“Humph! Think what you like. I am going to talk to her.”

Magda glared. “Go ahead then. I can see there’s no changing your mind. But I don’t fancy being humiliated by another of your rattlebrained schemes, thank you.”

Bertha caught hold of her skirt. “Don’t you dare go. I can’t do this on my own.”

“Let go of me. I said I’m going home.”

“Please, Magdalena! I need you.”

Magda pulled her skirt free and took another backward step. “No, ma’am. You just count me out this time.”

She turned to go and Bertha lunged, catching her in front of the hotel door. They grappled, tugging sleeves and pulling hair, both red-faced and close to tears. Just when Bertha got set to squeal like a pestered pig, from what seemed only a handbreadth away a woman cleared her throat. Bertha froze, hands still locked in Magda’s hair, and turned to find the bluebird beaming from the threshold—though canary seemed more fitting now that she’d traded her blue frock for a pale yellow dress.

“What fun!” Bessie cried, clasping her hands. “I feared this town might be as dull as dirt, but it seems I was mistaken.”

Friday, October 10, 2008

Goodbye, Hollywood Nobody

Today's feature author is:


and her book:

Goodbye Hollywood Nobody

NavPress Publishing Group (September 15, 2008)


Lisa Samson is the author of twenty books, including the Christy Award-winning Songbird. Apples of Gold was her first novel for teens

These days, she's working on Quaker Summer, volunteering at Kentucky Refugee Ministries, raising children and trying to be supportive of a husband in seminary. (Trying . . . some days she's downright awful. It's a good thing he's such a fabulous cook!) She can tell you one thing, it's never dull around there.

Other Novels by Lisa:

Hollywood Nobody, Finding Hollywood Nobody, Romancing Hollywood Nobody, Straight Up, Club Sandwich, Songbird, Tiger Lillie, The Church Ladies, Women's Intuition: A Novel, Songbird, The Living End

Visit her at her website.

Product Details

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: NavPress Publishing Group (September 15, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1600062229
ISBN-13: 978-1600062223


Monday, July 11, 6:30 a.m.

I awaken to a tap on my shoulder and open my eye. My right eye. See, these days it could be one of four people: Charley, Dad, Grampie, or Grammie.

“’Morning, dear!”


Oh well, might as well go for broke. I open the other eye.

“Did you sleep well?”

I shake my head and reach for my cat glasses. “Nope. I kept dreaming about Charley in Scotland.” We sent her off with her new beau, the amazing Anthony Harris, two days ago. “I imagined a road full of sheep chasing her down.”

“That would be silly. They would have to know she hates lamb chops.” Grammie sits on my bed. Yes, my bed. In their fabulous house. In my own wonderful room, complete with reproductions of the Barcelona chair and a platform bed of gleaming sanded mahogany. I burrow further into my white down comforter. I sweat like a pig at night, but I don’t care. A real bed, a bona fide comforter, and four pillows. Feather pillows deep enough to sink the Titanic in.

She pats my shoulder, her bangled wrists emitting the music of wooden jewelry. “Up and at ’em, Scotty. Your dad wants to be on the road by seven thirty.”

“I need a shower.”

“Hop to it then.”

Several minutes later, I revel in the glories of a real shower. Not the crazy little stall we have in the TrailMama, which Dad gassed up last night for our trip to Maine. Our trip to find Babette, my mother. Is she dead or alive? That’s what we’re going to find out.

It’s complicated.

The warm water slides over me from the top of my head on down, and I’ve found the coolest shampoo. It smells like limeade. I kid you not. It’s the greatest stuff ever.

Over breakfast, Grampie sits down with us and goes over the map to make certain Dad knows the best route. My father sits patiently, nodding as words like turnpike, bypass, and scenic route roll like a convoy out of Grampie’s mouth.

Poor Grampie. Dad is just the best at navigation and knows everything about getting from point A to point B, but I think Grampie wants to be a part of it. He hinted at us all going in the Beaver Marquis, their Luxury-with-a-capital-L RV, but Dad pretended not to get it.

Later, Dad said to me, “It’s got to be just us, Scotty. I love my mother and father, but some things just aren’t complete-family affairs.”

“I know. I think you’re right. And if it’s bad . . .”

He nods. “I’d just as soon they not be there while we fall apart.”


So then, I hop up into our RV, affectionately known as the TrailMama, Dad’s black pickup already hitched behind. (Charley’s kitchen trailer is sitting on a lot in storage at a nearby RV dealership, and good riddance. I’m hoping Charley never needs to use that thing again.) “Want me to drive?”

He laughs.

Yep. I still don’t have my license.

Man. But it’s been such a great month or so at the beach. So, okay, I don’t tan much really, but I do have a nice peachy glow.

I’ll take it.

And Grampie grilled a lot, and Grammie helped me sew a couple of vintage-looking skirts, and I’ve learned the basics of my harp.

I jump into the passenger’s seat, buckle in, and look over at my dad. “You really ready for this?” My heart speeds up. This is the final leg of a very long journey, and what’s at the end of the path will determine the rest of our lives.

He looks into my eyes. “Are you?”

“I don’t know,” I whisper. “But we don’t really have a choice, do we?”

“I can go alone.”

I shake my head. “No, Dad. Whatever we do, whatever happens from here on out, we do it together.”

Headquarters of the FIRST group. A blogger alliance that publishes the first chapter of fiction books on the first day of each month. Join us!

Got Character?

Remember I'm here to post about books with great characters. What's my definition of a great fictional "character"?
A heroine (in this case, not the hero, since we're talking about the softer gender, here.)whose got spunk, guts, is fallible, but leans on God when she's in trouble and when she needs answers to life's problems. She's memorable, strong enough to stick to her principles, and not afraid to fall on her knees to talk with her Father. She's not ashamed of her purity, and knows that virtue brings its own rewards.

Does that sound like you? I hope so. If not, keep coming back as I discuss character issues, and how some fictional (and real) heroines are dealing with them.

More soon,


Sunday, October 5, 2008

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Long Journey Home

Whitaker House (September 2, 2008)


Born and raised in west Michigan, Sharlene MacLaren attended Spring Arbor University and graduated with an education degree. Now happily retired after teaching elementary school for 31 years, ‘Shar’ enjoys reading, writing, singing in the church choir and worship teams, traveling, and spending time with her husband, children, and precious grandson.

A Christian for over forty years, and a lover of the English language, Shar has always enjoyed dabbling in writing—poetry, fiction, various essays, and freelancing for periodicals and newspapers. Her favored genre, however, has always been romance. She remembers well the short stories she wrote in high school and watching them circulate from girl to girl during government and civics classes.

Sharlene’s books have had the opportunity to reach readers all across the world. The subject matters she touches on have changed hearts and lives resulting in a general fiction nomination for BOOK-OF-THE-YEAR by the American Christian Fiction Writers Association, various appearances on United Christian Broadcasters, Babbie's House, Harvest TV, and an extremely significant online presence.

Shar is a speaker for her local MOPS organization, is involved in KIDS’ HOPE USA, a mentoring program for at-risk children, counsels young women in the Apples of Gold program, and is active in two weekly Bible studies. She and her husband, Cecil, live in Spring Lake, Michigan with their lovable collie, Dakota, and Mocha, their lazy fat cat.

Other Books by Sharlene MacLaren:

Through Every Storm (ACFW finalist for Book of The Year 2007!)

Spring's Promise

Little Hickman Creek Series:

Each story in MacLaren’s Little Hickman Creek series depicts Kentucky in the late 1800s, focusing on a little town better known today as simply Jessamine County. Titles in the series include Loving Liza Jane (April ‘07), Sarah, My Beloved (October ‘07), and Courting Emma, (Spring ’08).

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99

Paperback: 399 pages

Publisher: Whitaker House (September 2, 2008)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1603740562

ISBN-13: 978-1603740562


Dan Matt son pushed the speed limit on Highway 6, feeling wild and reckless. With both windows down, radio blaring, map stretched out on his lap, he sped past a sign reading Oakdale: 10 Miles and breathed a sigh. Not far now, he told himself. With his back muscles aching and his stomach (and gas tank) nearly empty, he was more than a litt le anxious to reach his destination.

Along the way, he had noted several large farms, their rickety fences lining the roadside. Here and there, cows and horses huddled in groups, grazing on thinning,

grassy knolls. Restless and impatient, he ran his fingers through his thick, black hair, then reached down and turned up the volume on the radio. At the sounds of a familiar country tune, he began humming along with the radio until his cell phone started vibrating. He yanked it from his pocket, flipped open the cover, and spoke a hurried greeting.

“Danny, where are you?”

He should have known his sister would inquire after him before the day was done. “Hi, Sam. I’m not far from Oakdale.”

“Well, I miss you.” It was hard to ignore the pouty tone.

“Already? I just left this morning.” He forced a smile. Lately, it took a lot for one to come naturally.

“It doesn’t matter. Things are not going to be the same around here without you.”

“Things have not been the same for a long time, Samantha,” he corrected.

Had it really been more than a year since his life took a sharp, screeching turn? Even now, the past memories tangled with his present senses.

“That’s true, but did you have to move away? These things take time, Danny, and the constituency did give you six months to rest up and collect yourself,” she said.

Collect myself? Is she kidding? Six months had barely been enough time to shake off the numbness before reality set in. He swallowed down an angry retort.

“We’ve been over all this, Sam. It’s for the best.”

“Leaving your congregation was for the best?” she asked.


“Folks were just starting to heal. I don’t think you gave it enough time.”

Sam was nothing if she wasn’t forthright about her feelings. Of everyone in the family, she’d been the most adamant about him sticking it out with his congregation.

Did she think this last-minute conversation might convince him to turn around? It was almost enough to make him chuckle.

“I did what I had to do. Hanging around wasn’t doing my parishioners any good.”

“Do you know that for sure?”

He heaved an enormous sigh. “I was their pastor, Sam, but I was the one who needed shepherding.”

“God uses imperfect people all the time.”

“Maybe so, but a church needs strong leadership. What kind of pastor stands in front of the pulpit Sunday after Sunday and offers nothing more than a few babbling words? Shoot, Sam, even I had trouble following my sermons.”

Samantha giggled. “I have to admit, they were going from bad to worse.”

“There you have it,” he murmured, mindlessly reading passing billboards.

“I was kidding.”

“No, you weren’t. Did Mom put you up to this phone call, by the way?”

“Nope. In fact, she told me to leave you alone.”

“Smart woman.”

A tiny pause silenced Sam for a moment. “When are you going to stop blaming yourself for the accident?”

At her question, he tightened his grip on the steering wheel. “Who said I was?”

“It’s pretty obvious, although why you would is a mystery to me. You weren’t even with them when it happened.”

“Precisely. That, my dear, should explain my guilt.”

“So, you’re saying if you’d been with them it wouldn’t have happened? That’s silly. And what about this? If you’d been driving, you might all be dead. That was a treacherous storm.”

“I gotta hang up, Sam. I’m getting closer to town.”

“Dan, answer me this,” she persisted.

“What?” He gritted his teeth against his growing perturbation.

“Besides blaming yourself, do you also blame God?”

He sighed. “I am so tired of talking about this.”

“Just answer me.”

“I don’t know.” Some things were just too hard to put into words.

“Shall I discount all your past sermons about trusting God even through the tough times? I still remember you preaching at John Farhat’s funeral. You looked straight into his wife’s eyes and said, ‘We would never see the stars, Ellen, if God didn’t sometimes take away the day.’”

A ball of guilt formed a tight knot in his chest. How many people had he hurt in his leave-taking? Worse, how many had he led astray? “Let it go, Samantha.”

“I suffered, too, you know. I lost a sister-in-law and a precious niece. And think about Mom and Dad….”

Her voice drifted off as Dan watched the road ahead. “Gotta go, Sam. I’ll call you soon.”

He clamped the cover of the receiver down hard and stuffed the thing back in his pocket, then quickly yanked it back out, opened it up, and hit the off button.

Oakdale City Limits

Dan breathed deeply when he passed the familiar landmark. He’d visited Oakdale only briefly before, but something about its tranquil setting brought a sense of peace and belonging. Its rambling old oaks, fields of wild flowers, ageless pines nestled on faraway hillsides, and timeless brick homes surrounded by flower beds held a kind of idyllic appeal.

He passed an ancient cemetery and instinctively slowed, its sight only adding to his pensive mood. Cemeteries did that to him.

Andrea… Her name shot out of nowhere.

He pushed the accelerator. “God,” he muttered, “what were You thinking? Taking my family away from me was a rotten trick.”

Dan flipped the turn signal at the entrance to Oakdale Arms Apartment Complex, his new stomping ground—at least until he got a grip on himself. He saw the large moving van sitting in the parking lot. It contained a minimum of furniture, enough clothes to get by, and only those memorabilia that wouldn’t cause undue pain. He’d already made payment to the moving company, and the driver had said he would be back for his truck in a couple of days. Moving companies didn’t often operate that way, but since the driver was an old friend, he’d made special arrangements.

Dan parked the car, got out, and stretched. Oakdale looked like a nice enough community—quiet and pleasant, with a friendly aura. Its appeal was almost tangible. Maybe this would be his answer to finding some much needed peace.

He would go into the apartment he’d leased, then make a call to his old high school friend who’d offered him the construction job. He took in the sights and smells around him, felt the warmth of the summer sun on his back, and believed in his heart of hearts that he would find answers right here in this lovely little bedroom community on the outskirts of Chicago.

A hair-raising scream roused Callie May from her sleep-drugged state at precisely six fifty-six on Sunday morning. “Nooo,” she groaned, burying her head beneath her pillow. Hadn’t she just closed her eyes five minutes ago? Just give me another hour, Em. But as the screams rose in decibels, she surrendered to the fact that her eight- month-old baby was hungry and needed attention.

On her way to the nursery, she adjusted the thermostat. Early sun reached its spindly fingers through the half-drawn blinds, sending shafts of light through the kitchen window. Looks like another sunny day, she mulled. Too bad she couldn’t say the same for her spirits.

Emily’s pouty sob gave way to instant smiles when Callie walked through the door. “You’re a stinker, you know that?” she chided while lowering the bar on Emily’s crib and lifting the baby into her arms.

“Waking Mommy when she had just fallen asleep.”

Emily smeared a wet, warm kiss across Callie’s face, making Callie chuckle in spite of herself. “You think you can win me over with your kisses?”

After a hasty diaper change, Callie hoisted the baby on her hip and headed for the kitchen. “Ba-ba-ba-ba,” Emily chanted along the way, oblivious to her mother’s less- than-chipper mood, her recent “B” sounds coming out in an attempt to say “bottle.” Of course, Callie’s father begged to differ. “She’s trying to say ‘Grandpa,’” he claimed.

Pulling open the fridge door, she spotted a bottle of formula and snatched it off the shelf, then pushed the door shut with her hip. “Cold or hot?” she asked, holding the bottle under the baby’s nose. Emily reached for the bottle and steered it to her mouth. “Guess that answers that,” she said, tipping Emily back in her arms while the baby suckled.

As she reached for a mug for tea, a sudden racket in the hall outside her door sparked her interest. Yesterday, someone had started moving into the vacant apartment across the hall, but she’d been too self-absorbed to pay much attention. Now, however, she found herself padding across the room for a peek through her peephole.

At first, she saw nothing through the tiny hole in her door. But then, a tall, strongly built man emerged from the apartment, large crate in hand. He looked to be about her age—perhaps in his mid- to late-twenties. He paused just briefly, as if pondering something, giving her a chance to study his handsome, sober face with its clear-cut lines, generous mouth, and thick crop of black hair. An unexpected shiver scampered up her spine.

Even through the tiny opening, she sensed his angry mood; she saw it in his crinkled brow and clenched jaw.

He looks mad enough to spit poison. Who is he?

A squirming Emily forced her away from the door. She told herself that the man was of no concern to her, and not to mind his dark and dangerous appearance, never mind that her marriage to an abusive man had ended mere days ago and she was feeling vulnerable.

She had enough things to worry about without adding a dodgy-looking character into the mix.

Dropping into a soft chair, she gathered her baby close and blew out a loud breath. While Emily finished off the last few ounces of formula, Callie leaned back and closed her eyes. If the stranger held down the noise, she might be able to catch a few more winks before getting ready for church.

“What? You’re pregnant?” he screamed. “You finagling witch!”

An angry fist shot out and hit her square in the jaw, knocking her to the floor. Pain seared her face like fiery talons while a gasp of air pushed past her lungs. She skidded across the hardwood floor and slid up against the wall.

“Don’t hate me, Thomas. I—I didn’t mean for it to happen. Please…”

“Shut up!” he ranted, reaching for a fistful of her hair and yanking her head around till it snapped. “You’re gonna get rid of that mistake in your belly, you hear me?”

The urge to retch consumed her. Mistake? Timidly, she raised her face to him.

“I—I can’t do that.”

“You can and you will,” he wailed, pulling her hair until it nearly ripped from her scalp. She screamed with pain. Sneering, he dropped his hand and tramped to the door.

He wrenched his coat from its hook and pushed his arms through the sleeves. “I’m going out! I can’t stand the sight of you!”

When he slammed the door behind him, she lowered herself, exhausted, into a rumpled heap on the floor.

Her own sobs and the beads of sweat that dotted her forehead were what roused her from the nightmare. It wasn’t the first time she’d dreamt it, and it was unlikely to be the last. Shaken but relieved, she swabbed her brow with the back of her hand. Thomas was in Florida. She was in Illinois. The marriage was over—as was the abuse. Now, if she could just rid herself of the terrifying memories.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

This Time, the Author is a Feisty, Female Character!

Okay, so it's not fiction. But Joyce Meyer is a real-life "heroine" living the ultimate adventure: Following God with a passion! Hearing His voice! Does it get much more exciting than that? Read on, to discover more of what this feisty female character can teach YOU about living a life that pleases the Lord.

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

How to Hear from God: Learn to Know His Voice and Make Right Decisions

FaithWords (August 13, 2008)


JOYCE MEYER is one of the world's leading practical Bible teachers. A #1 New York Times bestselling author, she has written more than seventy inspirational books, including The Confident Woman, Look Great, Feel Great,and the entire Battlefield of the Mindfamily of books. She has also released thousands of audio teachings as well as a complete video library. Joyce's Enjoying Everyday Life® radio and television programs are broadcast around the world, and she travels extensively conducting conferences. Joyce and her husband, Dave, are the parents of four grown children and make their home in St. Louis, Missouri.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 304 pages

Publisher: FaithWords (August 13, 2008)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0446691240

ISBN-13: 978-0446691246


God Talks to People Every Day

Read Chapter 1 in How to Hear from God. Then read in your Bible the Scriptures designated below and answer the questions that follow. When you finish, check your answers in the answer key provided at the end of this book.


God has spoken to all people in their inner consciousness, through creation of the natural world and through creating within man an inner void that only God can fill.

1. Read Romans 1:19-21.

a. To what part of a person does God make Himself evident?

b. What does God reveal about Himself to all mankind through His creation?

c. What happens when people do not honor and glorify God, even when they know and recognize Him as God?

2. Read Romans 14:12.

What is required of each of us?

3. Read Isaiah 26:8-9.

a. What is our heartfelt desire?

b. Whom does our soul yearn for?

c. What does our spirit seek?


God speaks to men and women for very specific purposes—He speaks to them so they may know what is lasting and what isn’t, so they may carry out His will, so they may live forever, and so He may direct their daily footsteps.

4. Read 1 John 2:17.

a. What passes away and disappears?

b. What remains forever?

5. Read Proverbs 3-6.

What does God promise to the person who seeks to know, recognize, and acknowledge Him?

6. Read Jeremiah 29:11-14.

a. When does God hear us?

b. When does God reveal Himself to us?

c. What does God reveal to us when we seek Him and pray to Him?

d. What does the Lord do for us when we find Him?


God speaks to those who seek to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in all they do. The Bible says all people can hear from the Holy Spirit if they will only seek God and receive Jesus as their Savior and receive the Holy Spirit Whom the heavenly Father sends.

7. Read Luke 11:13.

To whom does God the Father give the Holy Spirit?

8. Read John 1:32-33 and John 14:15-20.

a. Who is the One Who baptizes with the Holy Spirit?

b. Where does the Holy Spirit reside?

c. What does it mean to be baptized in the Holy Spirit?

d. Why can’t the “world” (unbelievers) receive the Holy Spirit?

9. Read John 16:12-13 and John 14:26.

a. Into what does the Holy Spirit guide us?

b. What does the Holy Spirit announce and declare to us?

c. What does the Holy Spirit cause us to recall?

10. Read John 6:45.

As those who listen to and learn from the Father, Who is our personal Teacher?


The Holy Spirit knows all about us—all about the way we should conduct our lives—and about God’s plans and purposes. The Bible gives us examples of men and women who have heard from the Lord, including great details about God’s plans and purposes, as well as the consequences of their obeying the Lord’s instructions.

11. Read Matthew 10:30, Psalm 139:16, Acts 17:26-27.

What does the Holy Spirit know about us?

12. Read Matthew 7:13-14, Deuteronomy 30:19, and Jeremiah 21:8.

a. How does the Bible describe the “gate” through which the Holy Spirit leads us?

b. How does the Bible describe the “way” the Holy Spirit leads us to follow in life?

c. What critical choice does the Holy Spirit help us to make?

13. Read Genesis 6:13-17.

a. In this passage, what did God tell Noah that He was going to do?

b. What did God tell Noah to do?

14. Read Exodus 7:1-5.

a. In this passage, what did God tell Moses about Pharaoh?

b. What did God tell Moses about Aaron?

c. What did God tell Moses that he was to do?

d. What did God tell Moses about the way Pharaoh would respond to Moses’ message?

e. What did God tell Moses would be the end result?

15. Read 1 Corinthians 2:10-13.

a. What does the Holy Spirit unveil and reveal to us about God?

b. Why does the Holy Spirit reveal to us the thoughts of God?


The Lord promises to be our Shepherd—to lead and guide us in the paths He desires for us to walk. He tells us that we will have the ability to hear His voice. God speaks to us—our role is to listen intently for what He has to say to us and then to obey Him fully.

16. Read Ezekiel 34:11-16.

In this passage, what does the Lord promise to do for His sheep?

17. Read 1 John 2:27.

a. What does this verse say about the permanent source of guidance that we have in the Holy Spirit?

b. What does this verse say the anointing of the Holy Spirit teaches us?

c. What does this verse challenge us to continue to do?

18. Read John 10:4-5.

As His “sheep,” what did Jesus say about our ability to hear and follow Him?

19. Read Psalm 46:10.

What is the best way for us to hear from the Lord?

20. Read John 2:5.

What should our response be when the Lord speaks to us?


As you have read Chapter 1 and have completed this chapter of the workbook, has the Lord spoken to your heart and mind about His desire to speak to you personally on a regular, daily basis?

I invite you to use the space below to write out a prayer to the Lord, asking Him to speak to you about the matters in your life that are of greatest concern to you. Ask Him to speak to you about His plan for your life. Ask Him to give you an open heart to hear what He says. And . . . express your desire to obey whatever it is He tells you to do.

Copyright © 2004 by Joyce Meyer

Friday, October 3, 2008

An Interviewer Asked Me This Question....

When I did an interview with Reader Views once, my interviewer asked, "Do you think some readers resonate with the characters and become them - maybe in a fantasy sort of way?"

I'm printing my answer to that question here because I get talking about heroines we love, and why. Here's the answer:

Linore: Absolutely. That’s why we like pretty heroines we can admire; I think every reader of every book is vicariously living that book. But we must be able to understand their motivations. We also need to be able to recognize when they make mistakes, but still be rooting for them. If you have a really stupid heroine it will annoy the reader because you want her to be smart, like you, maybe even smarter. She’s got to show you what you could be; she represents possibilities, hopes and dreams. But if she’s too stupid or foolish you no longer want to identify with her and I think that would be a drawback.

I definitely get disgusted with a book if the heroine is stupid, even in relationships. T!hat's why I'll try to post about GOOD books here. Stay tuned....

Thursday, October 2, 2008

She's Got PMS? Here's Help!

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

The SOS for PMS: Practical Help and Relief for Moms

Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2008)


Mary Byers is a professional speaker and writer whose passion for transforming lives is evident in every project she takes on. In her first book with Harvest House Publishers, The Mother Load: How to Meet Your Own Needs While Caring for Your Family, Byers teaches women how to take care of themselves so that they can nurture a happy, healthy family. The mother of two lively children, she offers down-to-earth suggestions, spiritual truths, and real-life advice on how to juggle family responsibilities while creating a balanced life through supportive friendships, stress-relieving laughter, regular exercise, rejuvenating solitude, and an intimate relationship with the Lord. The founder of Word Works, Byers graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Telecommunications. She is also a Certified Association Executive. Byers and her husband, Stuart, reside in Illinois with their two children.

Other books by Mary:

How to Say No...and Live to Tell About It

Extraordinary Women: Secrets to Discovering the Dream God Created for You

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $11.99

Paperback: 192 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2008)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736921702

ISBN-13: 978-0736921701


There's Yellow Caution Tape in the Kitchen Again

Callie O'Keefe stood in the bathroom crying. Her two children, ages four and two, were outside the closed door, listening to their mother sob. Abby still felt the sting of her mother's hand on the back of her head. She'd made her younger sister cry, setting her mother off and resulting in the physical smack that seemed to come from nowhere with the speed of a rattlesnake strike. Abby stood in the hallway confused. Though she was the one who had been struck, her mother was the one crying.

As her children stood bewildered outside the bathroom door, Callie cried into a bathroom towel. "Lord, please help me stop this," she begged. "This is not the kind of mom I want to be!" This prayer had been uttered at least once a month for many years as she struggled with depression, anger, and fits of unpredictable behavior that descended on her prior to the onset of menstruation.

It was the same every month. The familiar twinge of oncoming cramps alerted her that her period would begin within the week, which meant she had to watch her words and actions very carefully. Each PMS battle started the same. Callie resolved to "do better and be kinder." And each resolution was quickly broken when her children set her off by arguing, complaining that the other got the bigger piece, or spilling a glass of milk at the very moment Callie's ability to cope was at its lowest. And it wasn't only the children who were bruised by her irrational behavior. Her husband, Steve, was just as likely to be the target of a tirade that she would later regret. Some nights it was so bad she'd wait until he was asleep and then slink into the guest room to bed down for the night. That way she wouldn't have to face him in the morning and see the hurt in his eyes.

As sobs racked her body, Callie grieved the fact that each month she seemed

to get worse. What had started as mild PMS in her 20s was now cause for serious concern. Two children in the house and an inability to control her words and emotions was a combustible combination. Callie knew she was doing damage to the family and feared the long-term consequences.

She raised her head from the towel, looked into the mirror, and saw the face of a mother in agony. Surely I'm not the only one who's out of control like this every month, she decided. Callie remembered a neighbor down the street who had once mentioned at a party that her husband had nicknamed her "The Human Hurricane" because of the damage she did regularly while in the clutches of PMS. At the time Callie laughed because she couldn't imagine quiet, gentle Amber turning into anything close to a hurricane. But after the morning Callie just experienced, she now believed it was possible.

After rinsing her face with cool water, Callie opened the bathroom door and sat on the floor next to Abby. She gathered her sweet daughter into her lap, rested her chin on the top of Abby's head, and murmured the words she'd had to say so many times before: "Abby, mommy lost her temper, and she's very sorry. I was angry that you made Jessica cry, but how I handled it was inappropriate. I'm so sorry."

Abby's response was the same as always. "It's okay, Mommy. I love you." The ease with which she offered forgiveness amplified Callie's pain.

After hugging Jessica, Callie headed to the phone to make two calls. First, she'd call her physician to make an appointment to discuss her symptoms. Then she'd call Amber, the Human Hurricane, and ask if she'd come over some afternoon for a cup of coffee while the children napped. She finally realized she needed help and couldn't fight the PMS battle alone.

Though the phone calls were small steps, they would pay big dividends. By acknowledging the problem, Callie placed herself on the road to healing.

allie is like me--and many women I know who suffer from severe PMS. We don't want to act the way we do. We're normally fairly balanced, kind people. We love our husbands and children. And yet, when triggered, we speak words we regret in an ugly tone

of voice. We overreact. Sometimes we punish our children physically. Sometimes we rebuke them by ignoring them or withholding our love. One mother I interviewed confessed that, while under the influence of PMS, she ran away for a day when she felt she could no longer take the pressure of mothering.

Do you know you suffer from PMS? Or are you wondering if you do? Let's start by taking a closer look at the symptoms.

Physical Symptoms


bloating, water retention, weight gain

breast swelling and tenderness


changes in bowel habits (constipation/ diarrhea)

decreased sexual desire


fatigue, lack of energy

food cravings, especially for sweet or salty foods

leg cramps


nipple discharge

pain (headaches, aching muscles and joints, cramps, low back pain)


sensitivity to light


sleep pattern changes and/or insomnia


swelling of hands and/or feet

vaginal irritation

Behavioral and Emotional Symptoms



decreased alertness

depression, sadness, hopelessness


inability to concentrate



loneliness * paranoia

loss of control * suicidal thoughts

mood swings * unexplained crying

nightmares * withdrawal from family and friends

panic attacks

These are just a few of the 150 or so PMS symptoms that have been identified. Individually they are often manageable. When combined, they can be debilitating. According to WebMd:

Although 85 percent of women experience PMS at times in their lives, about 40 percent are significantly affected.

While most women first experience PMS in their mid20s, PMS becomes even more common among women in their 30s.

PMS can come and go during the reproductive years, and symptoms may worsen as a woman approaches perimenopause in the late 30s or 40s.

Severe PMS symptoms may be premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which affects up to 8 percent of women.1

For the purpose of our discussions, I'll be dealing with PMS. However, if you suffer from PMDD, please note: The symptoms you are wrestling with are more severe than regular PMS indications. Because of that, it's even more essential that you be proactive in developing a personal coping plan. The unexpected, unpredictable nature of PMDD mood swings, depression, and feelings of being overwhelmed make it extremely detrimental to mothering. The sooner you respond to the monthly tsunami that sweeps you away each month, the better off you and your family will be.

Mothers, be encouraged! You are not alone in the PMS battle, and you are not imagining your symptoms. Here's what a physician wrote about her own challenge each month:

When I asked my mother for help she could only offer sympathy. She told me that I'd probably grow out of it as I got older. Instead, it got worse. My PMS continued all through my medical training at Northwestern University in Chicago. One week out of the month I was in too much pain to do my work properly. I still remember the many afternoons when I had to leave the medical or pediatric ward. I went to the medical student on-call room and lay there in agony with severe nausea and cramps. My body swelled up so badly that I couldn't bear to bump against anything. The cysts in my breasts became large and tender. I was the only woman student on many of my rotations, and my symptoms made me feel inferior to and different from the male students. My moods fluctuated terribly. Part of the month I would feel calm and relaxed--like everyone else. But before my period I became quarrelsome and hard to deal with. I became much more sensitive to imagined or real slights and put-downs. I craved sugar and went on junk-food binges. Often I'd steal away and cry, not knowing how I was ever going to get through my training.2

Another physician wrote:

It is clear that PMS exists because among the thousands of women I have listened to, I have never had one say that each month, after her period, she loses self-esteem or fights with her husband or wants to kill herself. I have never heard a woman say that she wanted to feel postmenstrually as well as she does each month premenstrually. I've never heard a woman say, "You know, I get irritated easily, but premenstrually nothing could bother me."3

I'm sure you can identify with some of the symptoms and emotions

just expressed. Though reviewing the list of symptoms in this chapter

and realizing you have many (or all!) of them can be alarming, I hope

you also experience relief and comfort. I remember hearing about PMS for the first time and thinking, I have that! I was so relieved to understand the cause for my wild mood swings and unpredictable behavior.

It's one thing to understand why questionable behavior is occurring. It's another to do something about it. In retrospect, that's where I dropped the ball. There were many reasons that my new awareness did not lead to behavioral changes. Mostly, I was not willing to admit to myself or anyone else that I was unable to control my emotions and the resulting actions. To do so would have required admitting a weakness, something I wasn't willing to do. (Then I became a mother. Suddenly all my weaknesses showed up, en masse, the minute I arrived home from the hospital with that bundle of pink blanket and joy in my arms!)

In addition to not wanting to admit my struggle, since I was married when my PMS worsened, it was much easier to blame my husband for my problems and expect him to be the one to change. Needless to say, that plan failed dismally.

It wasn't until I noticed that once a month my normally upbeat, positive nature melted into hopelessness, helplessness, and apathy that I begin to consider getting help. Honestly, the help wasn't so much for me as it was for my family. Month after month of irrational, uncontrollable, and unlike-me behavior finally took its toll. After struggling mightily to manage the unmanageable each month, I finally got down on my knees and admitted to God that I needed help. Then, like Callie, I called my doctor, acknowledged the problem to a friend (who, it turned out, had also been struggling alone with the problem), and admitted to my husband that "Black Tuesday" at our house was a result of my hormones--and not his shortcomings as a husband. (More on this later.)

My willingness to surrender was the turning point in my battle with PMS. By acknowledging it and being proactive, I've been able to lessen the effects on my family and me. Though I certainly haven't perfected my response, my family and I are more hopeful about it than we've ever been.

Skulking around, hoping PMS will go away on its own doesn't work. Admitting that there is a problem, enlisting help, searching for solutions that work, and making the changes necessary to minimize the effects of PMS are the only ways to slay the hormone dragon.

That's what this book is about: finding hope and taking back your life. Are you ready?